Gene that Affects Male Fertility Discovered

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Scientists looking at DNA modelResearchers in the The University of Western Australia (UWA) built upon the work by Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR), which originally discovered the SLIRP receptor, a gene known to affect hormone action in prostate and breast cancer cells. Additionally, it has an effect on male fertility, claim researchers.

They discovered that mice with no SLIRP gene – a so-called ‘knock-out’ gene — had one third fewer offspring than ordinary mice and generated significantly fewer sperm that could be described as ‘good swimmers’.

Researchers crossed normal females with SLIRP knock-out males and discovered the litter size was reduced by 30 percent. Electron microscopy of the sperm with no SLIRP gene found a disruption in the middle section of the structure, which was linked to the sperm swimming more slowly.

With further studies in humans, if decreased SLIRP production turns out to be an important cause of infertility, evaluation of SLIRP receptor amounts in male sperm might help explain why some couples are not able to have a baby.

The analysis was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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